GENEVA, 13 August (UN Information Service) -- The outgoing President of the Conference on Disarmament, Mykola Maimeskul, this morning expressed his satisfaction that the Conference was now fully engaged in its substantive work and said the new President would continue intensive consultations to name a chairman for the Ad Hoc Committee on negotiating a fissile material cut-off treaty.
In his closing statement, Mr. Maimeskul, who is also the Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the United Nations Office at Geneva, reviewed progress achieved under his presidency. He welcomed the establishment of the Ad Hoc Committee on a treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons. Concerning other agenda items, Mr. Maimeskul said the Chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee on negative security assurances had conducted a set of fruitful meetings and would soon start the drafting of his report. The six Special Coordinators were also in the process of further consultations pursuant to their respective mandates.
The representative of Finland welcomed the decision to start negotiating a FMCT and thanked the President of the Conference for this achievement. The representative of China delivered a statement on the need for the Conference to immediately re-establish its Ad Hoc Committee on an arms race in outer space. The representative of France also addressed the meeting.
The Conference will hold its next plenary at 10 a.m. on Thursday, 20 August.
LI CHANGHE (China) said he would expound on the position of China on the prevention of an arms race in outer space. Although resolution 52/37 by the General Assembly last year called on the Conference on Disarmament to re-establish its Ad Hoc Committee on an arms race in outer space, a view which China fully subscribed to, there seemed to be a view that there did not exist an arms race in outer space at present and therefore this item should not be a
priority for the Conference. China could not agree with this because the series of activities of developing and testing of outer space weapons or weapon systems in recent years had already given rise to concern in many parts of the world. Prevention of an arms race in outer space had become an actual and urgent task for the international community.
Mr. Changhe said that weapon systems under research might differ in forms as some were deployed entirely in outer space or targeted objects in outer space while others relied on space to provide target information for ground weapon systems. However they all served one purpose which was to seek absolute strategic superiority and absolute security for one or a few countries. The consequence would be turning outer space into a base for weapons and a battle field. This would upset regional and global strategic stability, trigger off a new arms race and undermine international peace and security.
Against such backdrop, Mr. Changhe said it had become indeed an actual and urgent issue to prevent an arms race in outer space. China was of the view that when addressing this item, the Conference should take into full account the fact that the development, research and possible deployment of some weapon systems, including the theatre missile defence system, would introduce the weapon systems into outer space. Thus immediate action should be taken to prevent weaponization of outer space and to ban the test deployment and use of any weapon systems in outer space and prohibit the utilization of outer space for striking ground targets. The countries with the most advanced space capabilities should undertake special responsibilities to ensure the exclusive peaceful use of outer space and commit themselves not to test, deploy or use any weapon system pending the conclusion of a multilateral agreement on the prevention of an arms race in outer space.
In conclusion, Mr. Changhe said China hoped that all members would demonstrate necessary political will and flexibility so that the Conference could begin its substantive work on the effective prevention of an arms race in outer space as soon as possible.
MARKKU REIMAA (Finland) welcomed the decision of the Conference on Disarmament to start negotiations on a treaty to ban the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons and thanked the President of the Conference for this achievement. The Minister for Foreign Affairs of Finland, Tarja Halonen, had said she was pleased by this step, adding that in the aftermath of the nuclear test explosions conducted by India and Pakistan in May, it was of particular importance that international arms control dialogue was moving forward.
Mr. Reimaa said the fissile material cut-off treaty negotiations would deal with several issues which were either politically or technically very complex. Finland believed that no time should be wasted to start to engage in
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concrete work. In view of the short period left in this session, Conference members should make the most effective use of the period between the sessions.
FRANCOIS RIVASSEAU (France) welcomed the decision to establish an Ad Hoc Committee on a fissile material cut-off treaty two days ago and hoped that this Committee would be able to begin work as soon as possible in view of the advancement of the last part of the session. France was aware of the President's intensive consultations to name a chairman for the committee. In view of the urgency, France proposed that if circumstances were appropriate, the Chairman could hold an exceptional plenary tomorrow or early next week to name the chairman so that the Committee could meet as early as next week.
MYKOLA MAIMESKUL, President of the Conference on Disarmament and Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said he had been planning to address this issue and he took note of the proposal of France. Intensive consultations were continuing with regard to naming a chairman for the Ad Hoc Committee. The new President of the Conference, Ian Soutar of the United Kingdom, would conduct these consultations and would inform the Conference of the results of his efforts.
Mr. Maimeskul said that as this was the last plenary meeting of the Conference on Disarmament under the presidency of Ukraine, he was pleased to state that this period of time had been one of intensive work, productive initiatives and mutual cooperation which, at the end, had led the Conference to the adoption of the Ad Hoc Committee to negotiate a treaty on the prohibition of the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons on the basis of the Shannon report. By doing so, the Conference had shown its collective wisdom and determination to make one more decisive breakthrough in the field of both nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.
Mr. Maimeskul said that in the course of bilateral consultations, the presidency had heard the views of the different regional groups. The Group of 21 continued to attach the highest priority to nuclear disarmament multilateral negotiations within the Conference and stressed the need for the immediate establishment of an Ad Hoc Committee on nuclear disarmament. Many delegations, including from the Western Group, expressed their support for the idea of establishing a consultative, advisory mechanism within the Conference to provide it with more information about the achievements and the complex issues involved in the nuclear arms reduction process. Delegations of some nuclear weapons States emphasized that their priority was the establishment of an Ad Hoc Committee to negotiate a fissile material cut-off treaty. Delegations of other nuclear weapons States indicated their preference to return back to other aspects of agenda item 1.
Mr. Maimeskul expressed his satisfaction that the Conference was now fully engaged in its substantive work. The Chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee on negative security assurances had conducted a set of fruitful meetings and
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would soon start the drafting of his report. The six Special Coordinators were in the process of further consultations pursuant to their respective mandates. Under his presidency, the Special Coordinators on anti-personnel landmines, on transparency in armaments and on expansion of the membership of the Conference had presented their progress reports. It was hoped that concrete steps based on their findings would take place before the Conference ended its session.
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